By Sierra Marrero |Asst. Community Editor|
This past weekend Chancellor “Chance the Rapper” Bennett became the first independent artist to receive a Grammy for Best Rap Album.
“Glory be to God […] I claim this victory in the name of the Lord,” said Bennett during his acceptance speech. “I wanna thank God for my mother and my father who supported me since I was young […] and for Chicago!” he continued.
The award is attributed to his 2016 album Coloring Book, which features other artists like: BJ The Chicago Kid, Chicago Children’s Choir, Future, Anderson.Paak, and many more.
The album features a dynamic combination of themes reflecting hope and positivity which includes unique stylistic language displayed through complex lyricism.
The album addresses themes ranging from eluding hip-hop industry norms, to conversations with God, and to Bennett’s personal upbringing.
Bennett’s receiving of the award was historic due to the fact that this was the first time as an unsigned, independent artist, has ever won for Best Rap Album.
Usually artists with a record label are only eligible. However, just last year, a newly implemented Grammy regulation allowed stream only-recordings to be eligible for nomination.
Coloring Book was released in May of 2016 exclusively through Apple Music’s streaming service and has since reached No. 8 on Billboard’s charts.
This has also been historic in itself. It was the first streaming album to ever achieve that much success, reaching over 57 million streams its first week, equaling to over 38,000 units sold.
Since the release of his first mixtape 10-Day back in 2011, Bennett has since been an unsigned, independent artist.
According to the Grammy’s nomination page, it precisely states under the record label for Coloring Book, “Chance the Rapper.”
During his acceptance speech Bennett elaborated on his choice to be independent.
“I know that people think independence means you do it by yourself […] but independence means freedom. I do it with these folks right here,” said Bennett.
Back in 2015, he discussed his freedom on New York’s Hot 97 radio station stating, “I have complete control over my music, the same that I did when I was in high school: I make what I wanna make, when I wanna make it, with who I wanna make it with.”
Bennett believes that the control of the distribution of artists music is one of the major factors in attaining freedom.
He also stated that giving mainstream distributors a piece of his work to anyone is hard for him.
Since winning his awards of Best Rap Album, Best New Artist and Best Rap Performance (for his track “No Problem“ ft. Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz), he has received much support from popular news magazines, professional athletes, and other artists.
The Rolling Stone tweeted, “Chance the Rapper is the first black hip-hop artist to win #Grammys Best New Artist since Lauryn Hill in 1999.”
Artist John F. Hennessy tweeted, “Chance the Rapper won a Grammy today. He’s independent, hasn’t sold an album, and gives all of his music away for free. This is a major win!”
After Bennett’s performance with gospel stars Kirk Franklin, Tamela Mann for “How Great” and “All We Got,” he received encouraging tweets from his fans.
“Happy for my brother @chancetherapper on the Grammy!!! Way to rep the city fam!” tweeted Dwayne Wade.
Some students agree that it is great to see an honest artist have independent success.
“If there is anything I respect is when a person glorifies God and puts his words out to the people,” said student Roland Morales.
Student Joshua Bayliss also agreed that Bennett deserved the award as well as recognition.
“Coloring Book in my opinion was one of the best new albums of 2016. People who aren’t big fans of the hip/rap game genre can still vibe with it,” said Bayliss.
Naciya Watts, a student unfamiliar with Bennett, agrees with his message nonetheless.
“You don’t need a major record label to sign to be successful […] If you work hard for what you want, you will get it,” said Watts.